The first Sunday in September is a special day for fathers throughout Australia, as they gear up for an annual celebration of their contribution to family life. Father's Day owes much to its counterpart Mother's Day for its existence and like the corresponding holiday, this fun-filled family day is all about pampering Dad through a variety of thoughtful means.
In Australia, the day typically revolves around furnishing Dad with an early-morning breakfast and perhaps even a felt-bottomed revolving tie-rack. However, Father's Day is celebrated very differently in other parts of the world, so we thought we'd take a look at some of the unique ways this festive occasion is celebrated across the globe.
They don't mind a tipple in Germany; a fact no more apparent than on Vatertag, which traditionally takes place on the Thursday precisely forty days after Easter. Also called Herrentag – or 'gentleman's day' – this curious celebration traces its roots to the Christian holiday Ascension Day and the 18th Century rural processions which marked the occasion. Today, Vatertag often revolves around hikes into the woods, in which a wagon laden with beer and ham is towed behind a procession of cheery Germans gents eager to reconnect with their agricultural roots.
Celebrated on the third Sunday in June, Chichi-no-Hi is a typically Japanese appropriation of what was once purely a western holiday. Japanese salarymen work notoriously long hours, so perhaps it's no surprise that sales of sake and shochu soar when it's time to celebrate Dad's special place in the household. Though the alcohol cabinet may be replenished, there's still room for sentimentality, with many Japanese children bearing homemade gifts in deference to dear old Dad.
The royal family is revered throughout The Land of Smiles, which goes some way to explaining why Father's Day in Thailand is centred around the birthday of current king Bhumibol Adulyadej. It takes place on December 5 each year and typically involves Thais of all ages dressing in yellow – a colour that officially marks the day of Monday and which doubles as the day King Bhumibol was born. Queen Sirikit's birthday is celebrated on Mother's Day – a sign of the respect the royal family commands in this ancient land.
Not so much a celebration of the nation's fathers as it is a commemoration of its one-time military might, February 23 marks Defender of the Fatherland Day in Russia. Viewed as a complimentary celebration alongside International Women's Day, the holiday itself was originally designed to fete members of the Russian Armed Forces. Today, it is generally viewed as a celebration of male virtues and small gifts are typically exchanged with men of all ages on this exotically-named holiday.
Dads everywhere can thank the United States for Father's Day and it should come as no surprise that the occasion is enthusiastically celebrated in a country where holidays are practically national institutions. The United States Postal Service is inundated with cards on the third Sunday in June, while American fathers can expect to be bombarded with an assortment of ties, socks, trips to the nearest golf club and various other male-related paraphernalia. Though undoubtedly commercial, Father's Day in the United States gives families the opportunity to sit down with patriarchs and celebrate the important role men play in our lives.